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Inequality in Nigeria

The severe inequality in Nigeria is a giant paradox. As the economy has grown to be the biggest in Africa and one of the fastest-growing in the world, poverty remains rampant. The oil-dependent country harbors the largest population of impoverished people in the world according to the Brookings Institute. As of 2018, 87 million people were living in extreme poverty in Nigeria. A sad reality for a country that, according to the African Development Bank, makes up a whopping 20 percent of the continent’s GDP.

Meanwhile, it would take the richest man in Nigeria, Aliko Dangote, 42 years to spend all of his wealth if he were to spend $1 million every day. According to Oxfam, Dangote earns around 8,000 times more per day than the bottom 10 percent of the population combined spends on basic needs annually. This is a stunning statistic for someone residing in a country ranked 157 out of 189 countries on the U.N. Human Development Index.

The Causes of Poverty

There are a few different factors driving poverty and inequality in Nigeria. Government corruption, greed and cronyism are arguably the biggest:

  • Transparency International ranked Nigeria 144 out of 180 countries on the corruption perception index in 2018.
  • The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission found that from 1960 to 2005 around $20 trillion was stolen from the Nigerian treasury by public officeholders.
  • According to Oxfam, lawmakers in Nigeria make $118,000 annually, one of the highest salaries in the world for public officials.
  • An estimated $2.9 billion is lost in tax revenue annually due to crooked and regressive tax policies, according to Oxfam. An example of these policies is the tax holiday given to companies in the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Project that results in around $3.9 billion in lost tax revenues. On top of this, the fragmented government revenue that is collected is inefficiently managed and unfairly allocated.

It is also worth mentioning that the share of the budget dedicated to public well-being is among the lowest in the region. In 2012, only 6.5 percent of the budget went to education, 3.5 percent went to health care and just 6.7 percent went to social protection. On top of this, around 57 million people lack access to clean water and more than 130 million do not have access to proper sanitation.

Gender Discrimination

Another main factor driving inequality in Nigeria is gender discrimination. Women are at a massive socio-economic disadvantage and Nigeria ranked 125 out of 154 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index in 2015. According to Save the Children Federation, 50 percent of girls aged 15 and older are illiterate. Land ownership and income are two aspects that show major gender inequality in Nigerian culture. For example, according to Oxfam, women make up 60 to 79 percent of the rural labor force but men are still five times as likely to own land, and the non-rural labor force is made up of only 21 percent women.

At the same time, more organizations are taking up the mantle to ensure that tackling gender inequality in Nigeria is more of a priority. For instance, Kudirat Initiative for Democracy or KIND for short, is a nonprofit based in Lagos that focuses on reducing barriers for women’s public participation in social, economic and political development. The initiative also concentrates its efforts on bringing an end to gender-based violence in Nigeria.

Children’s Suffering

Children are hit especially hard by the side effects of inequality in Nigeria. Around 32 percent of school-aged children are out of school and 51 percent are driven to child labor. Every 104 out of 1,000 children die before the age of five. The Save the Children Federation is working hard to alleviate some of the challenges of impoverished children. The nonprofit organization has made some impressive progress in helping Nigerian kids. According to Save the Kids website the foundation has:

  • Protected 296,132 children from harm
  • Supported 186,315 children in times of crisis
  • Provided 5,471,422 children with a healthy start in life
  • Provided 5,266,326 children vital nourishment
  • Supported 296,394 parents to provide for their children’s basic needs

The organization also runs a stabilization center for malnourished children and is working to provide adequate maternal health for Nigerians.

To Be Continued

Inequality in Nigeria is a multi-variant problem. Due to government and economic corruption and gender discrimination, Africa’s largest economy is off-limits for over half of the Nigerian population. Oxfam states that for Nigeria to substantially improve inequality and poverty, public policy, gender inequality and tax policies need a complete transformation. Until then, the good work being done by organizations like Save the Children Federation provide a positive but temporary solution. Confronting the issues and creating real reform from the inside out is the only way to halt the unacceptable poverty and inequality in Nigeria.

– Zach Brown
Photo: Flickr

Dangote
Aliko Dangote is known not only as the wealthiest person in Africa but also as the continent’s largest donor. This year, Dangote appeared in Forbes business magazine’s list of the most powerful people on the planet. Dangote is known for utilizing the rich agricultural land of his native country, Nigeria, to generate profits.

In 1981, Dangote founded the Dangote Group, a conglomerate offering products ranging from flour and salt to cement. The cement sector of the Dangote Group has operations in Nigeria and 14 other African countries, and Dangote Cement is the only Nigerian company on the Forbes Global 2000 Companies.

Despite his success, Dangote’s critics accuse him of using his political connections with African leaders to ban imports from his competitors. In 2012, only five percent of Dangote Cement was publicly traded.

However, Dangote claims the primary purpose behind his business strategies was and is to use Africa’s resources to bring money to Africa. This type of business approach is called “backward integration,” a process wherein a country uses its own production to replace imports.

Nigeria’s abundance of limestone provides the country with easy access to concrete. This concrete, Dangote argues, could improve Nigeria’s roads. In September of this year, Dangote urged the federal government to consider concrete roads in lieu of bitumen roads claiming that the concrete is cheaper and more durable.

In addition, concrete roads supposedly require less maintenance and upkeep. The concrete road discussion is being rigorously debated among members of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG).

Of course, in most parts of the world, accessible roads are vital to transportation. Nigeria has the largest road network in West Africa and the second largest south of the Sahara. Whether or not the discussion is about concrete roads, improving a country’s infrastructure is pivotal to both broadening its economy and increasing its opportunities for advancement.

Dana McLemore

Sources: Economist, Forbes, Reuters, The News Nigeria, Vanguard Newspapers
Photo: Wikimedia

Philanthropic_Giving
When it comes to international aid programs, everyone has heard of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as Warren Buffett’s astronomical donation track record, with last year’s donations reaching $1.87 billion. However, outside of the American audience, African billionaires are also stepping up and contributing to causes they care about. Here is a list of African philanthropic billionaires that lead programs in their own countries.

The wealthiest African, Aliko Dangote, worth an estimated $20.2 billion, donates millions of his wealth to education, health and social causes. Last year Dangote took part in the first ever Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, where he discussed the benefits of donating, listing Gates and Buffett as inspirations.

Nathan Kirsh, a South African native, earned his $3.6 billion wealth by monopolizing the small goods market in New York City. According to Forbes, his philanthropic efforts focus on Swaziland, where he supplied approximately 10,000 people with starter capital for small businesses. Kirsh states that 70 percent of his recipients are women with a 70 percent success rate for his program overall. He also hopes to make Swazi schools the first in Africa to boast guaranteed computer literacy for all graduates.

Folorunsho Alakija hails from Lagos, Nigeria and is Africa’s richest woman thanks to her very profitable ownership of an oil block in the 1990’s. Since then, Alakija has expanded her $7.3 billion enterprise to real estate around the world, notably $200 million worth in the United Kingdom alone. With her money, Alakija founded the Rose of Sharon Foundation in 2008 which aids orphans and widows in her native country of Nigeria.

Mohamed Mansour has an estimated $2.3 billion fortune from his investment company the Mansour Group, which owns Egypt’s largest grocery store Metro and Egypt’s McDonald’s franchises, among other businesses. Mansour founded the Lead Foundation, a nonprofit that has provided over 1.3 million loans to small business endeavors and under-privileged women in Egypt. Mansour also chairs the Mansour Foundation for Development, which strives to eliminate illiteracy, poverty, and disease in order to expedite the development of Egyptian society.

Emily Bajet

Sources: Daily Mail, Forbes, Rose of Sharon Foundation, Mansour Foundation For Development

Aliko Dangote Africa's Richest Man Builds 1000 Bed Hospital
While laying the foundation for the Mariya Sansuni Dantata Ulra-Modern Theatre and Diagnostic Complex at Murtala Muhammed Hospital in Kano on October 3, Aliko Dangote announced another construction project for the northern state of Nigeria. Dangote, a cement industrialist, humanitarian, and leader of the Dangote Foundation, also happens to be Nigeria’s richest man.

As reported by Nigeria’s Channels Television, Dangote plans to build a 1000-bed hospital in Kano—projected by officials to be one of the largest and most ambitious healthcare centers in the Kano state.

At the foundation ceremony, Dangote discussed his motivation behind building the medical facility in Kano, his home state. Dangote wants to end the demanding costs of medical tourism — the process in which people travel to another country to receive greater care than they would in their own country for improved affordability, better access to care, and higher quality of care. According to Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Lamido Sanusi, medical tourism in Nigeria costs N80 billion per year.

Dangote further emphasized his dedication to achieve steady health programs for Nigerians. “It is not about creating a modern medical facility in this great city of ours. It is about our commitment to systematically improving health and well being…” He emphasized every Nigerian’s right to high quality health services.

With Dangote Foundation’s support, improved infrastructure, preventive healthcare, and training for skilled health workers can be realized.

Many African officials commended Dangote on his efforts and enthusiasm in helping the Nigerian people and economy. Kano State Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso commended Dangote, noting that the hospital will support surgical operations.  Kwankwaso also encouraged other wealthy Africans or philanthropists to follow in Aliko Dangote’s footsteps. The State Commissioner for Health, Labaran Yusuf, praised Dangote for revolutionizing quality of healthcare in the state.

Aliko Dangote has considerably increased his philanthropic efforts over the past twelve months. In addition to infrastructure projects, Aliko Dangote has been influential in funding several operations to empower Nigerian women, as well as starting a program providing grants to poor women and children, to be used as income to meet their family and human needs. Dangote also provided significant monetary donations toward flood relief in Nigeria last November, as well as donating to a number of Nigerian universities.

– Laura Reinacher

Sources: Forbes, Channels, The Guardian
Photo: Forbes

Africa Top Philanthropists 2012
Any list of philanthropists, by its inherent nature, cannot be truly inclusive. There are many individuals around the world, of all social and economic standings, who choose to give quietly and without fanfare. That being said, the following are 9 of Africa’s wealthiest individuals who publicly donated $1 million or more to various causes throughout the course of 2012.

1.     Aliko Dangote
President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote is Africa’s single richest individual.  Accordingly, he was also the continent’s largest giver.  He is estimated to have given an astounding $35 million to various organizations, many within his home country of Nigeria.  The causes range from disaster relief after widespread flooding in Nigeria (for which he pledged $15.8 million to the Nigerian government) to helping the victims of munitions blasts in Congo.

2.     Jim Ovia
Like Dangote, Jim Ovia hails from Nigeria.  The founder of Zenith Bank, he is estimated to have donated $6.6 million.  The majority of this – $6.3 million – also went to helping flood relief.  Ovia is also the financier and founder of Youth Empowerment & ICT Foundation, an NGO that promotes the youths of Nigeria to become fluent in ‘information & communication technology’ as a means of instigating economic change.

3.     Strive Masiyiwa
A native Zimbabwean, Strive Masiyiwa is the founder of Econet Wireless, a telecommunications group.  Masiyiwa established a $6.4 million trust at Morehouse College after he was awarded an honorary degree.  The trust will be able to fund 40 students’ educations for a four-year period.

4.     Tony Elumelu
The third Nigerian of the list, Elumelu is a chairman of Heirs Holdings and the former CEO of the United Bank of Africa.  He too donated to the government’s efforts to help victims of Nigeria’s flooding, giving $6.3 million through his Tony Elumelu Foundation.

5.     Arthur Eze
Yet another donor to flood relief efforts, the founder and chairman of Atlas Oranto Petroleum gave an estimated $6.3 million to the Nigerian government.

6.     Mike Adenuga
The second richest individual in Nigeria, Adenuga founded the Mike Adenuga Foundation.  Though the philanthropic organization is very tightlipped about its endeavors, Adenuga himself donated $3.2 million to flood relief in Bayelsa state in southern Nigeria.

7.     Naushad Merali
Chairman of the Sameer Group and founder of the Zarina & Naushad Merali Foundation, Merali donated $1.2 million to create a day care medical center at Kenyatta National Hospital in Kenya.

8.     Manu Chandaria
Another supporter of children’s healthcare, Manu Chandaria of Kenya gave $1.2 million to Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital with the goal of improving the facility’s intensive care and diagnostic services.  The donation was made through his eponymous Chandaria Foundation, which supports children’s medical services and education.

9.     Ashish Thakkar
The Ugandan-raised founder and CEO of the Mara Group is estimated to have given $1.1 million through his various Mara ventures.  The Mara Foundation, Mara Online, Mara Women, and other organizations of his creation all strive to help foster entrepreneurial skills within Africa’s youths.

– Rebecca Beyer
Feature Writer

Sources: Forbes, Ventures Africa
Photo: Silicon Valley Community Foundation